Sports Medicine

, Volume 36, Issue 5, pp 429–441 | Cite as

Ultra-Endurance Exercise and Oxidative Damage

Implications for Cardiovascular Health
  • Wade L. KnezEmail author
  • Jeff S. Coombes
  • David G. Jenkins
Review Article


At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity accumulated on most, preferably all days is considered the minimum level necessary to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Despite an unclear explanation, some epidemiological data paradoxically suggest that a very high volume of exercise is associated with a decrease in cardiovascular health. Although ultra-endurance exercise training has been shown to increase antioxidant defences (and therefore confer a protective effect against oxidative stress), an increase in oxidative stress may contribute to the development of atherosclerosis via oxidative modification of low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Research has also shown that ultra-endurance exercise is associated with acute cardiac dysfunction and injury, and these may also be related to an increase in free radical production. Longitudinal studies are needed to assess whether antioxidant defences are adequate to prevent LDL oxidation that may occur as a result of increased free radical production during very high volumes of exercise. In addition, this work will assist in understanding the accrued effect of repeated ultra-endurance exercise-induced myocardial damage.


Reactive Oxygen Species Reactive Oxygen Species Production Xanthine Oxidase Free Radical Production Physical Activity Energy Expenditure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this review. The authors have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this review.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wade L. Knez
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jeff S. Coombes
    • 1
  • David G. Jenkins
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Human Movement StudiesThe University of QueenslandSt Lucia, BrisbaneAustralia

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